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Race & Ethnic Studies


Recent senior thesis topics have included:

Black Panthers and contemporary grassroots organizing in Portland

Latino access to health care in Washington State

Race and difference in US media portrayals of HIV/AIDS in Africa

Diversity programs in higher education


Veronica Willeto received a Fulbright Award to study “Indigenous Cultural Tourism” in Botswana.

What do we mean by “race” and “ethnicity”? While it is easy enough to say that these words are used to designate difference of some kind, pinning down the nature of that difference can be quite tricky. Nonetheless, ideas about race and ethnicity have been central at many points in world history and remain salient today, whether we talk about ethnic pride or ethnic cleansing, about multicultural diversity or racial discrimination. Race and Ethnic Studies brings together students and faculty interested in exploring these ideas with analytical tools and approaches developed in a range of academic disciplines, and committed to critical examination of historical and contemporary social issues through the lens of race and ethnicity.

In Race and Ethnic Studies courses, you will explore what race and ethnicity as categories of difference mean now and how they have operated in the past. How have they been defined, constructed, and applied in different places and at different times? How do they intersect or overlap with other ways of understanding difference, such as gender, or class, or nation, or religion? In Race and Ethnic Studies, you will make these enormous questions manageable by working closely with dedicated professors from across multiple fields of study, from politics, psychology, and sociology to literature, religion, and the arts.  Working with teams of faculty from different disciplines will also allow you to develop multifaceted research projects on wide-ranging topics, such as kindergarten readiness in the Walla Walla valley, the U.S.-Mexico border in American print media, black protest music, minority women in the sex industry, Jewish-American identities in 1930s radio, and ethnic conflict in Uganda.

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